MLS Week 5 Recap: Reputations and Cool Kid Tables

ImageBlows came to a couple reputations in Week 5. Big questions dog the Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution, but the shine also came off the Columbus Crew a little. Going the other way, did Toronto FC just move to the “cool kid” table? Some things didn’t change, however. I mean, who beats the Colorado Rapids when it comes to pulling a surprise out of an ass? And the LA Galaxy made it look easy against Chivas USA. Again.

The rest looks like the usual inconclusive mess. We probably won’t know anything until everyone jumps into their respective playoff brackets at the end of October (I assume; not looking it up). Or they make plans for an extended Christmas visit. That starts in November…maybe some team will do use the favor of doing something to encourage bold predictions. That will inevitably prove wrong.

All right, to the videos!

Games I Watched. Or Endured. (See: Portland. Goddammit.)
Portland 4(!) – 4(!) Seattle Sounders
While I already watched this one and wrote about it (but was it well?). I took it in live, though, which means I saw some things (e.g. on-field positioning), but without getting a clear sense of others (because no replays). So, a couple corrections: 1) everyone around me at Providence Park lost every last piece of their shit over the officiating, but it didn’t show up in any of the post-game stuff I saw, so…maybe Hilario Grajeda didn’t suck as bad as I thought (I think he did, still; full of hat); 2) Seattle’s goals weren’t so “scrappy” as I supposed, but our set-piece defending still appalls; 3) I came away more impressed by the Timbers goals, Urruti’s, especially. So, yay! And boo! That game still feasted on dicks.

Columbus Crew 0-2 Toronto FC
Now, this one threw me – as in, put money on it, lost money on it, etc. Maybe Toronto played possum against Real Salt Lake (but why would they?), or maybe I (and others), tickled by seeming novelty, inflated Columbus’ reputation a little, ah, more than I/we should have. My notes on this (for I need them) anticipated that Columbus would apply a slow strangulation on Toronto until they pinned them back and started shelling. I made the note early as the 18th minute, yet it never came to pass, really. Toronto ran straight at Toronto until they scored their opening goal; Michael Bradley absolutely led that charge: he pulled the strings, scored the goal, and generally wrote another chapter for his Veni, Vidi, Vici, memoir. The Reds (that’s Toronto) couldn’t maintain that pace, but they didn’t really have to. They didn’t do anything more complex, really, than get in the way. It looked like clogging the channels to me, sort of what Mexico has historically done to the U.S. and it served them at least as well as bend-don’t-break. In all honesty, it served them better. Columbus, for their part, couldn’t do much more in the attack than serve in crosses – and Toronto was totally content to let them do it. Federico Higuain spent most of the night hitting soft, wayward passes and getting caught in possession too often – at least by his standards. I noted some bright spots for the Crew – particularly thinking that Giancarlo Gonzalez would look great in Timbers green (or red, depending on the day). I also thought Tony Tchani looked bullish in midfield. That’s too few players and the score speaks for the game…I had some stray stuff about not being all that hot on Canada’s future if Kyle Bekker counts as a star…and I wrote the following line, and like it, even if it’s meaning escapes me today: “I shall not dishonor Toronto’s serfs by naming them.”

The Other Game I Will Watch. Maybe Tonight. Maybe Later
Houston Dynamo 1-4 FC Dallas
For me, this one needs the closest watching. Yeah, yeah, Dallas specializes in hot starts, but pundits and people (NOTE: same genus, different species) keep saying, and I’m paraphrasing, “this Dallas team is different.” And that just makes me want to say, you can take the team out of Dallas, but you can’t take Dallas out of the team. Which doesn’t make sense, but I still like it. Anyway, more on this later.

And, The Rest
L’Impact Montreal 2-2 Red Bull New York
New York has given fans and neutrals little reason to expect much in this 2014. As for Montreal…I don’t know, it sometimes seems like we’re borrowing them on an exchange from another league. Well, Johnny Steele showed well (by highlights), for one; I’m more impressed by the assist on Peguy Liyundula’s goal than Steele’s goal (bad defending cheapens everything), but that Steele kid, he has upside. The same sort of critique applies to Felipe’s afternoon – e.g. he also had a goal and an assist like Steele – though, there, it took Armando, New York’s new central defender, to turn an average pass into a Shep Messing freak-out by…well, sucking. Which seems like a thing with Armando. This didn’t look like a bad game, all in all, and turning in watchable “product” sticks in my mind as something New York has done this year. The results aren’t coming, however, and excitement’s not the same without the payoff. Trust me on that one…

Chicago Fire 2-2 Philadelphia Union
If only Philly can get rid of that Amoebi Okugo guy…just start with a clean slate, y’know? (Can’t say I know what that big, Jack Mack trade will really mean in the end). Anyway, the game: “a shifty little feline after a seven-hour nap.” And that means? Wait…the game, the game. Could this game have been more about Bakary Soumare. First, he trick-or-treats as a statue on Philadelphia’s first goal (swear to god the man didn’t move), then he pops in the vicinity of Philly’s second goal, this time ably shielding the attacking player, although doing nothing but that on the play. And, sure, Juan Luis Anongano scores the equalizer, but there was Soumare again, charging that thing into Philly’s net. Hyper-present afternoon for that man, mixing the good and the bad. Not unlike his team. It’s good to see Mike Magee active and that was serious drama at the end. Yet there’s something in the ending, the way Magee got two bites on the PK and left the field hungry that makes one weigh metaphors. Give Philly credit, though, for the way they keep holding serve on the road (is that…the third time they got a point on the road? Yep.) I do wonder about that Jack McInerney trade, though…

Colorado Rapids 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps
A very close second for the game to return to this week, very close, because Colorado continues to bring the interesting. And, yesterday, it was the Jose Mari show – as in, call the vote, that’s your #GOTW (unless dishonest dipshit partisans spoil the competition with LIES by voting for their own; quality is quality, people, and that’s top-shelf shit). And then he scored another…that made David Ousted swear. But…but, you can’t avoid thinking that the Rapids got just a little lucky. Maybe what Matias Laba said to the ref would make a sailor cry (it happens), but that’s a damned soft red card. And Colorado leaned heavily on a sometimes-stranded Clint Irwin to get to the aforementioned Jose Mari show; sometimes the score lies, sometimes it doesn’t: this looks like the former, if only judging by the highlights. Tough loss for Vancouver, but it should help seeing Kenny Miller remaining influential (and present, ideally, past June) and Darren Mattocks add a goal to his respectable early season. It’s not like the started the season badly either. Tough loss, though.

DC United 2-0 New England Revolution
Quick confession: I love the uncomfortable reaction an own-goal prompts, the way one’s teammates don’t quite know what to do with the guy who scored it. Do they console him, yell at him, or ignore him? Most of New England’s players went with the last choice above after Jose Goncalves mis-hit his clearance very, very badly. The final score favored DC in the end, but the highlights read “New England Screws Up!” in pretty large font. “Shuttleworth finally called into action” came from the commentators around the 80th, which surely says something. Tempting as it is to write New England off, it might be wiser at this point to write off Teal Bunbury, who has so far displayed that infamous talent for “doing everything but score.” Nice to see Chris Rolfe score, though.

Sporting KC 0-0 Real Salt Lake    
The only people with even a slim chance of applauding this final score are RSL fans and players. It’s a point on the road against a very good team, after all. Still. It looked like a decent game for all that. And, hey, we all learned a new name: Jeff Attinella. (Say hello class.) Those were some fine saves, young man. On a similar note, I have never seen a more fortunate save the one that came off Nat Borchers closely-spaced feet. Sal Zizzo pulled the soft-serve on the follow-up, so Borchers only had to pass the ball…just away. He did and so goes the best chance of the night. The real shame here comes with not really being able to see what Salt Lake did this week. The highlights tell a tale of constant defending – and maybe that’s what happened. But it’s atypical for RSL. Hmm… For their part, Sporting dropped a couple points, even if barely. There’s also the tough, tough red card to Uri Rossell. Still, the usual suspects looked all right, though (e.g. Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer, and a visibly-frustrated Graham Zusi, at least after missing that tight-angle shot), so it’s safe to assume they’ll just carry on, right?

Chivas USA 0-3 LA Galaxy
Man, can’t wait for home-field to mean something on this one. The Super-Clasico, it hasn’t felt “super” for a while now. So the tradition continues. And yet there’s something more: how lackadaisical was Chivas defense on Robbie Keane’s 37th-minute opener. And I’m not just talking the goal itself, but where everyone was when LA played the ball wide left, then right again, then into Keane. And after that the shoulders slumped, heads went down: even through the video feed I could hear the word “renters” echoing around Chivas players’ heads. They really need to get the hell out of the HDC. Throw in details like the way Keane chipped in a lazy finish – that he missed – and suddenly Stefan Ishizaki playing as central attacking midfielder feels like the biggest talking point from this one. Well, that and the fact that Landon Donovan should really rest up, get whole, etc. Cambodia’s calling, my friend. It’s still there…

Having gone through it all (again), not a lot seems to have been revealed this week…not that I expected more this early in. If I had to name trends to watch, or even teams, I’d name the following – some of which aren’t new: Toronto, Vancouver, and, as much as anybody, Dallas.

As for me, I’m stuck watching the Timbers till we get better…who’s next week? Ooh…that could help.

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